How is My Custody Affected if I Move?

Posted in Child Custody on August 28, 2023

Work, a fresh start, or a new interest are just a few reasons a person may choose to relocate. Moving is typical now, and little thought is given to moving across the country or even around the world. Our society has become mobile, allowing us more freedom of choice.

But effortless mobility changes when children are involved, and adults must reconsider how a move will affect a child’s life.  

Defining Custody in California

There are multiple classifications of custody in California. Legal custody of a child is the right of a parent to make critical decisions for a child related to important life issues such as religious orientation, education, and medical care. Physical custody dictates the living arrangements of a child and where they spend most of their time.

Parents may also share joint custody of a child, both contributing to the right and responsibility to make the crucial decisions affecting a child’s life. A parent with sole custody can make these critical decisions without conferring with the other parent. Questions of relocation involve physical custody.

Why Custody Matters In California

The child’s best interests are the most critical factor when any parent considers moving. Ensuring that the relocation will not harm a child is essential. Judges also look at the current guidelines laid out in the parenting plan.

Sole Custody

A parent possessing sole custody of a child has a right to move unless this location change is proven harmful to the child. If a non-custodial parent is opposed to the move, it is up to them to convince a judge of the detrimental effects the action would have on a child. If the move can be proven harmful, modifications to the existing custody agreement will be considered if this is in the child’s best interest.

Joint Custody

When parents living in Solana Beach have joint custody and one parent decides to move, a judge first looks at the parenting plan to determine how the new arrangement would change the plan. The modification of a current parenting plan to reflect the move and changes in responsibilities is possible. But to a judge, the most essential factor in moving is that it serves the child’s best interests.

Determinants in a Judge’s Decision

A judge will review guidelines by the California Supreme Court to decide whether existing custody orders should be changed because of a parent’s request to relocate. Some of the evidence a judge considers includes:

  • The current arrangements of sharing custody
  • How far the parent wants to move
  • A child’s health and educational needs
  • A child’s relationship with their parents and the parents’ relationships with each other
  • Where a child expresses they want to live

Moves determined detrimental to a child’s welfare can warrant a change in custody orders. For example, if the educational needs of a child require specific classes that are provided at their current school but in the location where the parent proposes to move, then a judge will likely rule that the move is detrimental to the child.  

Work With a Solana Beach Child Custody and Visitation Attorney

Custody of a child and modifications to a parenting plan can be confusing and complex. But the most important factor in any case, particularly when the custodial parent decides to move, is the child’s best interest. Ratzer|Dobis is dedicated to helping their Solana Beach and San Diego clients find answers to the complicated questions surrounding custody and modifications in parenting plans. 

Scheduling a free consultation helps us understand your family’s needs better and begin advocating for the best interests of your child.